Ryenne has been growing like crazy these days. While we were on a recent vacation to Kauai spanning a little over a week, she out-ate both of her cousins (3 years old and almost 2), and put on two or three pounds during! She is the friendliest toddler you'll ever meet - waving and smiling at children, little old ladies, teenagers, grouchy looking old men, and even homeless people! She has absolutely no prejudice towards any person at this point in her life. And that's such a beautiful thing.
Ryenne has also been quite the jabber mouth lately. She is really into imitating sounds and intonation, and has been able to put more and more words together. Lately a phrase that you'll hear her say quite often these days sounds something like "Mah-mah, Mama." As a professional Ryenne-Ashley-language-interpretor, I have deciphered this little phrase to mean, "Help me, Mama." It's something that I've been saying for her in an attempt to model what the proper way of communicating her needs was rather than whining or crying or pointing when she would get stuck or her toy would fall over or her food would drop to the floor from the table. It's so amazing to me how quickly she picks up on things and how much she wants to learn. She tries desperately to communicate with us all the time, and we do our very best to understand her and respond as quickly as possible so as not to discourage those attempts. It's so important to listen to your child when she expresses a need because that is going to build so much trust and security into your relationship. A parent who ignores their child as she tries to communicate her needs is teaching their child that her needs are not important, that the parent does not understand her, and that ultimately whatever the parent is consumed with is more important than the child. While I, too, have been guilty of staring at my phone or computer rather than trying to meet the needs of my child, I do try so hard everyday to show Ryenne that she is my priority.
And I don't mean to say that Ryenne is the center of the universe. In reality, God is always going to be number one and pleasing Him is what is most important to me. Second to that is always going to be her daddy, and she comes next. In the context of communication though, David and I both feel that it is of utmost importance to do our best to listen to our daughter as she attempts to vocalize her needs, thoughts, feelings, or wants. But, it is still up to us as the parents to decide how best to respond - and sometimes that means having to say "no."
Anyway! Back to my story. This new phrase of Ryenne's ("Help me, mama") has me completely melted just about every time she says it. There is something so precious about that little voice asking me for help. I would do just about anything, as long as it was in her best interest, to meet whatever her need is when she asks me in such a sweet way. My heart overflows with joy to help her in any way I can.
This tender example of my own child asking me, the parent, for whatever it is she needs, has got me thinking often about the way my Heavenly Father looks at me.
A passage in particular that is very dear to my heart comes from Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV):
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
You are probably able to guess by now where I am going with this story. As a parent, when Ryenne asks me for help, I would do anything in the world to meet that need as long as I was able and it was in her best interest. And when I am able to meet that need, it brings me so much joy. So, how much more does God delight to answer me when I ask Him for help? He may not always answer me in the way that I am asking Him to, but that is only ever because it is in my very best interest. Sometimes I have to try to explain to Ryenne why I am not able to fulfill the need she is expressing. She doesn't understand for the most part yet, other than knowing that she's not getting what she asked for, but over time, she will hopefully be able to see why it is that sometimes I must say "no" to her. The same thing with me as a child of God. I may not always understand why God is not answering me in the way that I want Him to, but without fail, His reasoning is always in my best interest.
And what about the times where He does grant my request? That doesn't mean that He is answering my request because I've done anything right to earn it as a reward. It actually means the same exact thing as when He says "no:" it's because it's in my best interest. And if I receive so much joy in helping my daughter and giving her the things that she asks for, then how much more does it delight my Heavenly Father to help me and grant my requests!!! And oh, how much greater is His love for me than the love that I have for my little girl.
I am so thankful for the privilege it is to have my wonderful husband and my precious daughter as God's two greatest means of revealing Himself to me in new and beautiful ways. I have never felt more valued, cherished, protected, and loved by God as I do now, and I am so so thankful for the lessons He teaches me daily through my duties as a child of God, wife to David, and mama to Ryenne.